Apple ordered to pay $23.6M for infringing pager technology patents from 1990s

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2014
A jury on Monday found Apple in infringement of pager technology developed for the SkyTel network in the '90s, ordering the company to pay out $23.6 million in damages.




The suit was brought against Apple last year by patent holder Mobile Telecommunications Technologies and targeted iOS devices capable of handling iMessages, creating calendar invites and entering emoji characters.

As noted by Bloomberg, the verdict handed down by a federal jury in Marshall, Texas, found Apple's devices to infringe on five out of six asserted patents, amounting to $23.6 million in damages. MTel originally sought $237.2 million in damages, an amount equating to approximately $1 per infringing device at the time of the suit's filing.

For its part, Apple denied the accusations and argued many of the patents-in-suit were invalid. The jury agreed with Apple on at least one asserted property covering emoji character input, a feature argued to be covered by an MTel messaging patent.

MTel's attorney Daniel Scardino told Re/code that the decision represents recognition of past technologies on which modern advances in smartphone technology are built.

"Apple makes a great product and they deserve a lot of the credit they get," Scardino said. "But they should also give credit to those who are due credit for advancing the state of technology that came before them. That's what this trial is all about."

In the 1990s, MTel was considered a pioneer in the pager industry after rolling out hardware and services for two-way paging. At the time, the SkyTel network was at the cutting edge of mobile telecommunications, though the paging system has since been relegated to use by doctors and emergency services personnel. MTel is now a licensing arm of United Wireless.

Today's verdict was the second in as many months dealing with Apple's supposed infringement of legacy pager technology. In October, Apple avoided a $94 million patent suit leveled by "patent troll" GPNE, which claimed infringement of GPRS communications technology related to pager systems.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 35
    Well it goes both ways. If you have a patent it's good until it expires according to the U.S. Patent Office.

    This is obviously not an issue.
  • Reply 2 of 35
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,515member
    I'm curious if any other modern day OS also infringes? Is it only Apple's?
  • Reply 3 of 35
    Apple must be collecting a few patents of its own at this point..
  • Reply 4 of 35
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    I wonder how the jury came up with $23,575,000. Did they apply some formula the judge provided? Did each member just throw a number out and they took the average?
  • Reply 5 of 35
    As someone that holds that the first Amendment invalidates Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution, I find patent fights dubious, even though I realize Apple is quite fond of them, just as my employers are quite fond of copyrights.
  • Reply 6 of 35
    What exactly are these patents? the links don't say much more.
  • Reply 7 of 35
    ash471ash471 Posts: 705member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by malax View Post



    I wonder how the jury came up with $23,575,000. Did they apply some formula the judge provided? Did each member just throw a number out and they took the average?

    Both sides would have presented mountains of evidence on damages. They hired experts, prepared numerous briefs, took depositions, and put many people on the stand to discuss this issue.   It wouldn't surprise me if the parties spent half a million dollars in legal costs to determine that number.  Apple seems to have won most of the damages issues if they only got $23.5 million.

  • Reply 8 of 35
    ash471ash471 Posts: 705member



    $23.5 million isn't very much.  I would hope that Apple wraps up this litigation. They have proven that their patents are valid and infringed. $23.5 million seems pretty reasonable.  Apple should respect the patent system and write a check rather than appeal. 

  • Reply 9 of 35
    If Apple infringes these legacy patents, then almost certainly also do Android/Google & OEMs, Windows/Microsoft & OEMs, Facebook/Messenger & WhatsApp, and just about every messaging and email forwarding service and App.

    How long are these 1990s patents still valid for?

    Will Apple appeal? $23m is very small cheese for Apple, but will increase with subsequent devices sold since the suit began until the patents expire.
  • Reply 10 of 35

    you know, maybe apple shall pay me for my idea too.  

  • Reply 11 of 35
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,902member

    Patents 5,809,428, 5,754,946, 5,894,506, 5,590,403, 5,659,891 and 5,915,210 (Apple was found to not be infringing one of these). I believe most patents have a life of 20 years. These are all for pagers and pager networks. If these apply to mobile phone messaging applications (Google and the others also being sued), then all the telephone and wakie-talkie patents should have been prior art, invalidating these patents. Of course the judge can only see one generation back and for the most part, they are still valid because of the accepted time period, so Apple is force to spend money educating the judge/jury to show how stupid they are (pardon my language but I'm getting tired of these ridiculous law suits. I'm also tired of the History Channel programs that continue to try and show that things were created 1000's of years ago. Sure, someone figured out how to build a wheel and attach it to a cart but that doesn't mean they invented an automobile. This is what the judge is saying the patent owners did. Yes, they invented something that was used on a previous generation device that really doesn't have anything to do with the current generation of products. They received royalties from other manufacturers who used their patents in that time period. What they're pushing for now shows a lot of greed. Apple should pay them by dumping a ton of broken iPhone 1's on their doorstep. Those are worth more than their antiquated patents.

  • Reply 12 of 35

    this is a little ridiculous. i suppose a typewriter company can sue for text input? do the page companies have patents that outline how their patent applies to a phone? can a telly company sue apple because i can watch a movie on my iPhone? 

    these lawsuits are just crazy. i am aware i was not part of the jury- but i am doubtful that a page patent can be so easily linked to a smartphone.

  • Reply 13 of 35
    ash471ash471 Posts: 705member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

     

    Patents 5,809,428, 5,754,946, 5,894,506, 5,590,403, 5,659,891 and 5,915,210 (Apple was found to not be infringing one of these). I believe most patents have a life of 20 years. These are all for pagers and pager networks. If these apply to mobile phone messaging applications (Google and the others also being sued), then all the telephone and wakie-talkie patents should have been prior art, invalidating these patents. Of course the judge can only see one generation back and for the most part, they are still valid because of the accepted time period, so Apple is force to spend money educating the judge/jury to show how stupid they are (pardon my language but I'm getting tired of these ridiculous law suits. I'm also tired of the History Channel programs that continue to try and show that things were created 1000's of years ago. Sure, someone figured out how to build a wheel and attach it to a cart but that doesn't mean they invented an automobile. This is what the judge is saying the patent owners did. Yes, they invented something that was used on a previous generation device that really doesn't have anything to do with the current generation of products. They received royalties from other manufacturers who used their patents in that time period. What they're pushing for now shows a lot of greed. Apple should pay them by dumping a ton of broken iPhone 1's on their doorstep. Those are worth more than their antiquated patents.




    The problem with your argument is that nobody forces anyone to sell products that infringe.  If the feature is so stupid, why doesn't Apple just take it out of their products?  Because they are important.  Secondly, why shouldn't Apple compensate the inventors that advanced the technology that made the iPhone possible.  Apple didn't start from a clean slate.  Many people invented stuff that made the iPhone possible. Apple expects to pay some of these people what they are owed.  We have no reason to believe this wasn't a legitimate process. Besides, $23.5 million to Apple is like 1 penny to the average american. 

  • Reply 14 of 35
    ash471ash471 Posts: 705member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by revenant View Post

     

    this is a little ridiculous. i suppose a typewriter company can sue for text input? do the page companies have patents that outline how their patent applies to a phone? can a telly company sue apple because i can watch a movie on my iPhone? 

    these lawsuits are just crazy. i am aware i was not part of the jury- but i am doubtful that a page patent can be so easily linked to a smartphone.




    A court of law (including a jury) analyzed all the evidence and decided the patent was valid and infringed. I can tell from your response that you  don't know shit about patent law.  What next, are you going to start giving the world advice about brain surgery?

  • Reply 15 of 35
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member

    Tim Cook has been quoted as apologising and saying that he doesn't have anything smaller than a twenty-five million dollar note on him.

     

    Is somebody able to provide change for him?

  • Reply 16 of 35
    ash471ash471 Posts: 705member

    Seems like over the last 10 years the public has become anti-patent.  It's a real shame. The patent system is the foundation of entrepreneurship and a pillar of the U.S. technology sector.  You naysayers are killing the goose that lays the golden egg.  And for what? Why not force big companies to compensate inventors? Incentivizing entrepreneurs to invent stuff is way better than taxing big companies and giving it to lazy people on welfare.

     

    Apple has $150 billion dollars sitting on its balance sheet with no idea what to do with it. It is a very very good thing to force Apple to pay $23.5 million to the company that built a novel pager system in the 1990s and has patents that cover the new system.  If you prefer a technology sector that distributes its wealth through cronyism and leaves all the cash with fat cats in legacy big companies, move to a place like Russia. You'll fit in perfectly.  I prefer the American way; a patent system that causes turnover in wealth and incentivizes creativity.  

  • Reply 17 of 35
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GTR View Post

     

    Tim Cook has been quoted as apologising and saying that he doesn't have anything smaller than a twenty-five million dollar note on him.

     

    Is somebody able to provide change for him?


     

     

    He should just buy Blackberry and sell it onto them; they'll be worth about the difference.

  • Reply 18 of 35
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ash471 View Post

     

    Seems like over the last 10 years the public has become anti-patent.  It's a real shame. The patent system is the foundation of entrepreneurship and a pillar of the U.S. technology sector.  You naysayers are killing the goose that lays the golden egg.  And for what? Why not force big companies to compensate inventors? Incentivizing entrepreneurs to invent stuff is way better than taxing big companies and giving it to lazy people on welfare.

     

    Apple has $150 billion dollars sitting on its balance sheet with no idea what to do with it. It is a very very good thing to force Apple to pay $23.5 million to the company that built a novel pager system in the 1990s and has patents that cover the new system.  If you prefer a technology sector that distributes its wealth through cronyism and leaves all the cash with fat cats in legacy big companies, move to a place like Russia. You'll fit in perfectly.  I prefer the American way; a patent system that causes turnover in wealth and incentivizes creativity.  


     

     

    Indeed.

     

    Jobs had his head screwed on right when he went thermonuclear on Google.

     

    And now, in the absence of proper patent enforcement, Nokia have copied the iPad Mini. I can't imagine Ive is too happy, having recently said in interview that he has a dim view of those who copy his designs and regards them as thieves.

  • Reply 19 of 35
    ash471ash471 Posts: 705member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

     

    .... Yes, they invented something that was used on a previous generation device that really doesn't have anything to do with the current generation of products. They received royalties from other manufacturers who used their patents in that time period.


    How can you say they invented something that doesn't have anything to do with the current generation products?  You are clearly wrong. The court found that the patents do cover the future generation products.

     

    I think I know where your analysis went wrong. You compared the past products with the future products and determined that they aren't equivalent products.  However, that's not how patent law works.  The previous products are irrelevant. The analysis is between the claims of the patent and the accused products (i.e., future products).  This is a classic illustration of why the public is misguided in its disparagement of the patent system.  The people criticizing it don't understand it.  There is nothing wrong with the patent system.  It has worked just fine since the 1700s.  The problem is the lack of understanding of the patent system and the ability of "allegedly" smart technology people to use the internet to bitch about patents incessantly.  They think that because they are smart technology people that they understand patent law.  Well they don't.  And they are killing one of America's best institutions.

     

    All governments are in the business of distributing wealth.  Distributing wealth to inventors is by far the best form of government ever invented.

  • Reply 20 of 35
    ash471 wrote: »

    A court of law (including a jury) analyzed all the evidence and decided the patent was valid and infringed. I can tell from your response that you  don't know shit about patent law.  What next, are you going to start giving the world advice about brain surgery?

    And then it gets appealed and a new jury analyses it and shows that it does not infringe- so who is right?
    Not as easy as you think, huh.

    But you are the expert on patent law.
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